~Road Maintenance~

Written and Published on-line 28th April 2011


With the huge wet season we have been delivered this year, the hillsides, riversides and valleys remain covered in bright green, lush grass and vegetation...



The cascades and creek crossings along the road are still all flowing beautifully…



The waterholes are all filled to the brim…



The dams are all really deep - full of water reeds and lillies…



And the sides of the road have become marshy swamplands…



The debris in the trees indicate the level of how high the rivers rose during this heavy wet season’s floods…



With the road still covered at this time of year in seepage, it makes it extremely boggy and difficult to traverse in sections…



Every year, after we think the wet season rains have ended, we set to work digging drains and trenches at each of these boggy patches to speed up the water run-off from the road…



Here you can see how the drains we dig help the water lying on the road run off into the grassland…Going down about 4 inches into the hard under surface with a matic, pick and shovel as needed and taking the drain well out into the verges really does wonders...




Some boggy patches stretch as long as 30 meters. In a boggy area such as this saturated with seepage we would normally dig about 10 of these drains along each section…



Here you can see the remnants of the drain we dug 3 days ago and how this drain has helped the water channel off the road. The ground is now hard to walk on but it will be at least 10 days of burning sun before we can get the heavy grader on top of this area - once the ground has set hard…



Digging drains and trenches is tough hard work, especially in this country...because just under the surface it is all rock. Over this Easter long weekend, between the two of us, we dug about 80 drains in some 15 boggy patches along Mt Hart’s access road.


Yep, you betcha, it is really messy and hard work...as each strike of the matic hits the road and the mud splatters...



Nevertheless, each year we do this, because like so many other jobs at Mt Hart, if we didn’t, no one would. Just when the heat starts to get to us, our muscles ache and we don’t think we can take anymore, we break for a spell and take a walk out bush down memory lane…we follow the old Mt House road (which was the only road through the ranges prior to the construction of the Gibb River Road). This track is part of this country’s heritage for it passes right through Mt Hart territory. The pioneer folk who constructed this road had the unenviable task of moving the rocks by hand, and used pick and shovel to construct their tracks so bullock wagon teams could transport stores from Derby town out to the outlying stations...There were no dozers, front end loaders or graders in those days, just sheer muscle and will power. Look carefully at this section of the old Mt House track and you can see it circumnavigates it’s way around the side of a rocky steep mountain ridge…



Notice how the section of ground in the middle of the photo has been cleared of big rocks. This is where the old bullock wagon road passed. You can see on the righthand side of the image a windrow of rocks – this and so many other like windrows were all created by the calloused hands of pioneers with an indomitable will.



Each of those sharp heavy rocks were picked up off the centre of the road and stacked to form that windrow, so their store laden wagons could pass on through…



This is the average size of the rocks in the windrow…Imagine the ride on a wooden spoked wagon and imagine the incredible wear and tear on this equipment as hundreds of miles of this type of country was traversed by the teams.



This is another secret only a handful of people know the location and true history of – another part of this northern dreaming that needs to be remembered and documented, for without the efforts of all those incredible pioneering folk who toiled unbelievably to make that old road, this country would never have been opened up for us all to experience and enjoy.